JEROME - After years of failing inspections, the Jerome County Jail will soon be up to code, says the sheriff. That's because voters approved an $11.2 million bond issue to build a new jail.
The first four times this went to the voters, it was a no go, but the fifth time, the county got the two-thirds vote with more than 70 percent saying 'yes'.
"I thought this is just about as exciting as the first time getting elected sheriff," Sheriff Doug McFall said.
McFall says things were getting so bad in the jail that the county was close to having to ask a court to intervene to come into compliance with regulations.
"It's well outdated. Everything's broken in it, and we've been piecing it together for a lot of years," McFall said.
McFall says they're too crowded, with only 32 beds forcing the county to pay other jails to house their inmates, at a cost of around $50 a day, per person.
"It's just a vicious cycle. We're just bumping the max all the time and then shipping them out to other counties," McFall said.
He says safety issues for deputies and inmates are all over the current jail, from not enough space in the hallways to electrical and plumbing issues.
The jail inspector told KTVB a couple years back that the only way to come into compliance was a new facility. However, after years of votes coming up a little short, McFall wasn't sure going into Tuesday's election.
"I've got to be honest. I didn't think it was going to pass, but occasionally somebody would say something that gave me a little bit of hope," McFall said.
McFall believes the difference this time was community involvement, more information and the fact that the jail will be totally county-funded, without the need for outside help.
"We've got light at the end of the tunnel. We're excited about the new facility, and now that we know it's going to come, we can handle these next couple of years," McFall said.
With all of the planning and construction that needs to happen, it's going to be at least two years before the new jail opens. The new jail will be able to house around 125 inmates. The old building would be used for storage initially, but McFall says it could later be used for something else.